Thursday, July 30, 2009


Well, I'm off work for the next week. Notice I didn't say 'vacation', I said 'off work'. Due to corporate politics, and nothing to do with profit margin, my entire department is on a forced furlough for two weeks. I've been at work this week because there's stuff they _really_ want done, but next week, not so much.

Tomorrow I'm driving with a couple of co-workers up to franconia notch to participate in the TopNotch Triathlon saturday morning. I'm doing the bike leg. It's 6.5 mile ride with 1100 feet of climbing. 3 miles of it is paved, 1 is allegedly single track, and 2.5 is a walking trail.

I'm hoping to get down to concord in the afternoon and do the 35+ criterium. That depends on whether I get roped into landlord responsibilities in manchester. Sunday I'm planning on the Bow road race, 4 laps of an 11 mile circuit with 1100 feet of climbing per lap. It's supposed to be hot too. The KOM hill is wide open, no shade, straight up, and steeper as you get to the top. Fun.

So next week I have to paint one side of my house, replace the struts and brakes on my car, and do some maintinace at the manchester money pit. See? no vacation. Just work I'm not getting paid for.


But since all work and no play makes jack a dull boy, with any luck I'll be able to get in the mount Agmenticus ( Or "agonymentalcase" as named by a good friend) time trial the weeked after. That one is fun. They only allow road bikes, no TT bikes, no aero bars, and the course is described as

"7.4 miles long, featuring 3.5 miles of smooth, mostly flat pavement, 1.4 miles on a FAST hard-packed dirt road, ending on a paved finish on the top of Mount ‘A’. Mount ‘A’ features a 0.7-mile climb that has an average grade of 10%, with sections of 12-14% grade".

No shit!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I just want to say thanks

To the Cervelo and Saxo Bank teams for finally making a tour stage worth watching.....Between Husvod, Sastre (even though he imploded on the Col De Romme), and the Schleck brothers, there was actually excitement and drama yesterday, in what has been up to this point a big YAWN of a tour. Better than last years, but not by much until yesterday.

Oh, and the picture link in my drafting post has been fixed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Drafting 101

Drafting is fun. No, I don't mean the practice/profession of designing mechanical and architectural structures with mechanical pencils or Autocad, I mean following a vehicle close enough to tuck in its draft and get pulled along at speeds not normally attained on flat roads on a bicycle. I usually take advantage of opportunities to hop in behind a truck or a bus, even on a recovery ride, just because it's fun.
So, today I left work with the intent of doing a 20ish mile ride, low tempo, keep it at the low end of zone three. The first ten miles went according to plan, then I saw it, one of those commuter buses dropping off a couple of passengers. It just started to accelerate as I got in behind it, but accelerated very quickly, up a slight hill, I managed to stay with it for about 1/4 mile,but he kept accelerating, I lost him.

I rode along for another few miles until georgetown center, where I saw a semitrailer pulling out onto 97 north, the same route I had planned on. I hopped on and soon we were pushing 40, a little delay for a car turning in front of the truck then back past 40...42!
Bummer, the truck turned off at center street.
A couple of miles later, I was approaching the groveland bridge in haverhill. Traffic generally congests here, with the jct of 113 and the single lane bridge passing a large shopping plaza across the merrimac river. I hopped in behind a minivan. It slowed for traffic after the bridge, but then picked up over 30. Damn, it turned off after 1/4 mile.
A mile later, a box truck pulled out of a store close enough for me to bridge up to it. I stayed with it for 1/4 mile until it too turned off.


Last year I caught a truck draft from georgetown to the groveland bridge, about 4 miles, keeping it about 40 the entire way.

Drafting is actually a tried and true training tool, though it's usually done with the knowledge and cooperation of the driver, and usually small vehicle like a moped. That said, I'm not sure hopping in truck drafts really nets any benefit, but it sure is fun.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

another unfinished symphony

The Working Mans Stage Race July 14,15,16, 2009 -

The Ironically* named Working Mans Stage Race (wmsr) is the only weeknight stage race in the entire country, and possibly the world.

Stage 1 is a 6.7 mile time trial, slightly rolling with one big hill.

Stage two is an 8.8 mile circuit race, using most of the time trial course and incorporating another smaller hill in addition to the big hill on the TT course. There is a KOM on the big hill on the CR awarding points for the top three on each lap, plus a prize for the total top three.

Stage three is a points race at star speedway in epping new hampshire, racing under the lights for later categories.

The irony of the race is that if you have a full time job (i.e. a 'working' man, no offense to the female participants), it's kind of hard to do this race unless you live/work very close by or take time off from work This year they didn't have enough riders for a separate 30+ field, so they combined the 30+ and 40+ for a total of 43 riders. We were to race together on the course anyways, but they were going to score us separately.

Stage one - what's to say. It's a TT, and I generally suck at TTs. I rode a 16:53 for 25th place, but the 14th 40+ rider. I don't think I could have ridden any faster, except that I _may_ have not ridden the middle stretch as hard as I could have. I caught my 30 second man well before the halfway point, and I may have backed off because I thought I was riding fast. My 30 second man ended up 3rd from last.

Stage two - This circuit race is fun, but the course really can't accommodate fields much more than 50. The roads are narrow, twisty, and rolling, with rough pavement in spots. My plan was to try and get into a break that had representatives from the two big teams that were there, sunapee and CCB. A few attempts went off early, and I joined two of them that had the right mix. One break looked really good, and we had a gap with seven riders. I just managed to hang on the back of it over the big climb, my lack of fitness was evident. However, the winner of the TT who had no teammates brought it back on his own. I got into another break of four that looked good and had the right mix, but we didn't have enough of a gap before the big downhill. The winning break formed with two laps to go. Tyler Monroe of CCB rolled off the front and no one chased. When he had a good 20 seconds I took a hard pull, but sunapee wouldn't come through. This made no sense. Here they had 12 riders in a 43 rider field, most of them could have ridden away in a break, and they were letting one of the most successful local riders pull away. For some reason, this team that had been working as the best _team_ all year had no coordination. After one of my pulls that closed the gap a bit, eric pearce of Bethel Cycles took off and again, sunapee let him go. Eric is one of the better solo riders in new england, He's scored numerous solo victories and letting him get a gap is always a big mistake. He soon hooked up with tyler and they started working together. On the second to last time up the big hill, Bruce Diehl of Sunapee shot off the front like a rocket. I was in a position to chase, but I know bruce.He's a very good time trialer as well as a great hill climber. Even if I started to chase he would have dropped my going up the hill, and that's even if I came close enough to say he dropped me. Well, since there was an established break with CCB and sunapee, the blocking began. It came down to trying to scratch out a decent sprint from the field. We were all together on the last corner, which is at the bottom of the big downhill. I jumped out in front and took it at high speed in 2nd spot. This was still about a mile from the finish and too far to go with the field right behind. The lead rider sat up, and we were swarmed on both sides very quickly. I found myself in the middle of a pack riding close to 30 mph on poor pavement on a road that got progressively narrower. By the time I managed to break out of the pack, I was already a good 100 feet behind the leaders who had begun sprinting.I just gave it all I could, passed more than ten riders, and ended up14th, but the 9th 40+ rider. Again, too bad they weren't scoring us separately.

Stage three - Star speedway points race. I bailed. I was already on the fence, but hadn't committed either way.
The pavement at the speedway is harsh. Lots of divots and small scrapes from car crashes that will toss a bike if caught the wrong way. If there's any moisture at all the oil, brake fluid, and coolant that leaks from car crashes come right up. But that isn't why I didn't go.
Our race starts late - 9:30. Again, if you're a 'working man' and have to get up for work in the morning, it's generally likely that you won't get to sleep before midnight, and it won't be a restful sleep coming off the adrenaline rush of a riding 80 laps around a 1/4 mile circuit and sprinting every 5 laps. But that isn't why I didn't go.
The track is in epping, NH, a very rural forested and swampy little town, population less than 7000. New hampshires state bird is the mosquito. Every year I've gone the mosquitoes have been brutal, attracted throughout the night by the 150+ sweaty riders and the lights of the track. The New Hampshire department of something issued a report expecting a 4 fold increase in the mosquito population over last year. But that isn't why I didn't go.
I got home from work thursday, intent on packing up for the race, an my wino neighbor was sitting on the front porch with my wife having a glass of chilled chardonnay. OK, She's not a wino. But every time she comes over after work she brings her own glass of wine and usually the bottle it came from. They were happy, chatting, relaxed, I decided to join them. That's why I didn't go.
hmmm, go to a race where I'm required to sprint every 1 1/4 miles, that doesn't end until 10:15 at the latest, on harsh pavement, in a mosquito swarm, where I really had little chance of placing, or sit and relax with a chilled glass of wine with friends and family...wasn't a hard decision. If I had a position to defend, I would have gone, but there's no way I was going to break into the top 5 on GC in that type of race and the types of riders that would be competitive.

I don't feel bad about bailing on it, in fact I feel pretty good about my performance, considering the lack of training.

The next event I'm committed to is the bike leg of the top notch triathlon as part of a team from work. We won't win, the two guys I'm in it with aren't exactly at the pinnacle of running or swimming, but it should be fun.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

this just in

I found out I got a hit from denmark based on a google search of 'big soft fleshy pussy'.


Monday, July 13, 2009

I Like Racing Bikes

As the title of this blog suggests, I find racing and riding hard quite cathartic. I haven't raced in a while due to a number of factors, but I decided to wimp out on the Powow Triathlon and go to a local criterium instead.

The Attleboro crit is a fun fast affair, with a reasonably technical course, a small hill, and a very fast corner heading into the line, exactly 1km. They've had it pretty much consistently for about 20 years I think. I know I raced it for the first time in about '96.

I signed up for the 35+ and 45 +. The 45s went off first, and were separated by the cat 5 race so I had some recovery. It was a great field, 53 riders, with some big names, including Solobreak.

It started off fast, quite a bit faster than any 45+ race I've done. Good thing though, I started at the back and was almost taken out in the first 100 feet twice by two guys struggling to get into their pedals and wobbling all over.

I followed the pace for the first 5-6 laps, and felt comfortable. People started going off the front, and I was content to let them ride. I just stayed with the chases. With 11 laps to go out of 30, a bell rang for a prime. I thought this would be a launching pad for a break, and I was feeling good enough to get into one. Sure enough, a few guys latched onto the people going for the prime.

Oopsie - the bell rings again for a back to back! Since I was in about 5th wheel I held the spot. Coming into the line through the fast corner the leader sat up, and I decided to go for it. I jumped, blasted past on the left, and went to drop it into my 12 for the final push.

nothing happened.

It wasn't dropping down. I just kept hammering, spinning my 13 for all I had, when a guy from celtic cycles just rolled by me, taking the prime by a wheel.


So I sat in after that, trying to see if a barrel tweak could get it to drop down. No luck. It just sat on the 13 and rattled. Then it dawned on me, This wheel set, Mavic gel330 sew-ups with a campy cassette, sits a bit more to the right in the dropouts. When I use these wheels I have to remember to tweak barrel and the stop screw.

OK , now I know, if I want to place I have to get out front early and make people pass me. No problem. I had been moving up the hill and passing on the insides of the corners all day. I'm content to sit in. A small break had formed at the front, and Solobreak was doing a great job reeling them in. He has one of the best sprinters in new england on his team, so it's worth it for him to work. I actually have another one of the best sprinters in new england on my team as well, but I hadn't seen him the whole race. He's typically quite active, so I didn't know if he was going to play or not. it was too late in the race to drift back and find out.

We head into the bell lap. I know I have to be on the right to move up on the inside all the way up and down the hill.

I need to get to the right.
blocked in.
blocked in.
dammit, the hill is coming up quick, people passing on the right, doing exactly what I need to do.

shit. I roll up the hill at the back of the field. No point in me going from here, not being stuck in my 13. I let the field roll away. I see solo pulled off to the right, obviously completely spent.

Nice work, solo, I couldn't have done that.

Come to find out, my sprinter teammate went for the win and got 2nd. Solo's sprinter got blocked in, and finished near the back.

Funny how bike races work out like that.

The 35+ wasn't as fast as the 45s believe it or not. Of course, I had no intention of doing anything in the race, so maybe it's just that I wasn't try as hard. Still, the first 3-4 laps of the 45s were single file, the first few of the 35s were all bunched up.

A break with three good riders from three good teams got away about 1/2 way through, and it stuck. Sunapee, CCB, and Fuji blocked for their guys. There was alot of activity from the teams that missed the break - gearworks and corner cycle, so the pace was kept high and the break never got more the 30 seconds, but with 6 guys blocking it wasn't coming back. The last few laps were quite fast, and since I had fixed my derailleur I was able to drop into the 12 for a reasonable finish - reasonable in that I was able to sprint and didn't watch the action from behind.

35+ - 17th out of 56, 48 minutes, about 27 mph
45+ - DFL, didn't even get listed, but the field did 40 minutes, avg about 28 mph

So I didn't place at all, but I had fun. I felt good. Again as the title of the blog implies, it did wonders for my attitude.

This week is the WMSR. Should be fun!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Big Soft Fleshy Pussy

I used to call a riding buddy that whenever he either didn't show up for a ride in less than ideal conditions or hiked his MTB rather than risk life and limb.

Now that applies quite firmly to me. I was scheduled to do my first triathlon this weekend, the Powow Triathlon in amesbury, ma. The swim scared me off. I don't swim to begin with. I _can_ swim, and do, just not often, and with no intent of training when I do. So, based on the lack of training, and the daunting task of a 1/2 mile swim, I bailed. I signed up for two masters crit at Attleboro instead.

Riding in this morning, my attitude was at a disturbing low. The lack of training, the cold temps, the the descriptor of this blog states - 'my descent into madness'. Between my life and the weather, I managed _ONE_ cbtt* this month. I had intended a weekly attendance. I've attended the BOB tuesday night fights once since the beginning of june. I mean, I was wearing arm warmers this morning and my hands still got cold. IT'S FUCKING JULY ALREADY!!!!!!!

So, I'm not sure how I'll fair saturday at attleboro. I'm confident I won't get dropped, but whether I'll be able to have an impact on the race remains to be seen.

Hey, atleast I won't drown.

(* for kicks, try googling "cbt" instead of "cbtt" with your filter off, don't say I didn't warn ya!)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Back Up The Spiral

A more true axiom than Lennon's "life is what happens while you are busy making other plans" could not be spoken. My training of late, as a result of the confluence of significant events in people lives that are close to me has been getting in the way of any reasonable semblance of training or racing. While Solobreak was out making a goal of riding 500K over three days, and Chronoman was contesting the fitchburg stage race to the best of his abilities, I was mired in the morass of jobwifehomecarkids life. We all have to accept the effects on our lives of the decisions we make, and mine are the fact that training and racing are going to suffer if I don't want my house or marriage to.

Saturday morning I was recruited into taking a relative to the airport for a 9:30 flight, so she had to be there by 8:30. That blew any plans of local running races out since they both started at 8:30. The rest of the day was eaten up by yard work - nothing had been done in weeks because of the weather. Still, Saturday Night was eventful and fun, with a rogue firework show in my backyard, a nice fire in the stone pit, and a HeiniKeg on ice.

I had hoped to at least get down to the BRC Wells Ave training crit this sunday, but yard maintenance at the apartment building in manchester ruined those plans as well. Still, I managed to get almost two hours in at the FOMBA land in Auburn. (funny, their website says the trails are closed as of _today_ because of rain. I thought they were in great shape yesterday). If you're ever in the area with a few hours to spare, it is without a doubt some of the best single-track in the country. They have over 15 miles of rocky, rooty, windy, twisty technical single track now. I got in about 10 miles of it. The rain has left standing water on some of the trails, but it was just the right amount in my opinion. The significant majority of the trails were dry, with the occasional puddle here and there. Not enough to make the rocks and roots slippery, but enough to pop out of the trail with significant coatings and clumps of mud all over me and my bike.

uhhh huhuh huh

Not great pictures, but you get the idea.

I haven't ridden FOMBA since thier 'turkey burner' last fall, but I felt a good groove for most of the trip. The epic 3.1 mile "Fire Line" trail gave me the most trouble, and I severely lost the groove and ended up dismounting half a dozen times, including a front wheel wash out as I rounded a muddy corner and ended up in the bushes. The last trail I rode was the one mile 'fox tail', and I got into a good groove with no dabs at all. A moderately skilled rider can easily tick off a 6 mph pace when on the trails. I managed just about that, with "fire line" being the slowest pace at about 5.9.

I capped it off doing a bunch of yard work in manchester, and de-upholstering and dis-assembling a couch left in the yard by the previous tenant. The city won't take couches left at the curb, so I removed all the upholstery and stuffed it into contractor bags which they'll take, then brought the wood home for my fire pit.

So this weekend I'm scheduled to do the Powwow Triathlon in Amesbury Ma. I'm not so worried about the run or the bike obviously, but I don't swim, and the weather hasn't exactly been conducive to swimming. I've probably gotten about 30 minutes of swimming in since we opened our pool at the end of april, just enough to remember how to do a crawl stroke without taking on mouthfuls of water.

It's a 1/2 mile swim, what's a good time for a 1/2 mile swim? Last years results look like 15 miles is pretty average. Anyone who was anyone seemed to do around 12, the winners under 11. Truth is, I don't fucking know. If I get out in 15 or under, I think I'll be pretty happy. I know all the roads the bike course is on, so I should do pretty well there, but I've _never_ tried to ride a bike after a long swim, let alone treat it like a time trial.

Strategy? Don't drown.

Friday, July 3, 2009

I Just Wanna Know When I Get Mine.....

When the pros were awarded on the podium, they received a pint glass as their prize - less than typical pro compensation

Snide references over The Great Pint Glass Debacle of 2006 aside, this week has been an exercise in temperance. I managed three commutes this week if you count today. Not typically anything that would be blogworthy, except that this morning was the first time since monday of last week that I managed a ride without getting rained on. That's 170 miles, about 8 hours total, getting wet every time, and I still got wet this morning from the wet roads. The conditions for the ride home tonight remain to be seen, but even it it doesn't rain on the ride, the roads will most likely still be wet.

That's probably half the mileage and time I would normally ride for this time of year, but between the weather and the events leading up to last weekend, I'm not complaining. I was planning on running the North Andover July 4th 10K but as has been usual for my racing/training this year, Life has conspired against me, as I need to get a relative that was up here for last weekend to the airport for a 10AM flight.

So, I'll probably then be encumbered with getting whatever yard work I haven't been able to do done for the past month becaus of the rain. My lawn hasn't been mowed in two weeks. I haven't trimed any shrubbery at all this year (easy, solo), and I haven't taken my dog for a run in two weeks.

and as I write this....well whaddaya know, the sun just came out.